Nuts…Crackers…Sweet, Middlesex v Kent T20, Uxbridge, 24 June 2008

Your nuts, sir…you’re nuts, sir?

After the Richmond debacle on the Sunday – click here-  Middlesex had played seven, won five, lost two. That sounded great, except that the losses were the most recent matches and we knew from bitter experience that Middlesex’s T20 squad could snatch failure from the jaws of success.

This Uxbridge game against Kent was to be the last home game and seemed vitally important at the time. A win would mean qualification for the quarter-finals. Defeat would mean the need to win at least one of the two remaining away matches.

In the end I worked from home that day. I was due to be at a meeting in Westminster early afternoon to discuss a publication on business ethics I was being asked to edit. I did end up editing it, but the meeting that day got postponed.

I ended up taking the tube to West Ruislip and walking from there – a long but pleasant walk – an easier journey on a good weather day than tubing into town and then out again to Uxbridge.

Barmy Jez, who was working for Ged Ladd & Co in those days, tubed it to Uxbridge with some difficulty if I recall correctly, arriving “fashionably late”. But Barmy Kev and I had found a suitable second row seat on the side boundary and saved Jez a seat. Middlesex were in a spot of bother when Jez arrived, but then revived, which also revived our spirits. A couple of beers probably helped revive our spirits too.

In front of us sat a father and son combination; the father quite old, the son middle-aged or perhaps a young fogey. The father turned around and asked us to quieten down, as we were disturbing his peaceful evening at the cricket. I’m not sure that the marketing gurus who invented Domestic T20 quite had “quiet, peaceful evening matches in Uxbridge” in mind when they invented the format. (Ged makes a note to ask Stuart Robertson that question if ever he gets the chance).

I had brought plenty of picnic food with me, so, during the innings break, I tried to placate the irate gentleman by offering him a packet of M&S Sea Salt and Black Pepper Cashews – a not insubstantial offering in the circumstances. The man looked at me incredulously.

“Are you taking the Mick?”, he asked.

“No, I’m sorry we disturbed you and am offering you a small gift by way of apology”, I said.

“You’re suggesting that I’m nuts, aren’t you?” said the man.

I kept the cashews.

The father and son moved their chairs a bit to place some distance between themselves and us; we weren’t regretful.

Barmy Kev suggested later that I should have offered him some crackers instead. Sweet.

The cricket match ebbed and flowed. We tried not to get too noisily excited, which was quite difficult because it was a very exciting match.

It went down to the last over. Kent was one of the better T20 sides and we all knew that team’s capacity to pull off unlikely wins. But on that occasion they fell a few runs short.

Little did we know at the time how much the match was to foreshadow the final, which took place a month or so later. But for sure that was the evening that I really started to think, “gosh, we are capable of beating the best sides even in tight finishes this season. Maybe, just maybe we could win this tournament this year”.

Click here for the Uxbridge scorecard.

The MTWD match reporter that evening was Daria – an excellent writer – I wonder what became of her? It is a superb MTWD match report – click here.

Strangely and unusually, one of the King Cricket regulars, Soviet Onion had a match report for the same game published on King Cricket – click here, describing going to the cricket at Uxbridge with his dad. Surely Soviet Onion couldn’t be…couldn’t possibly be…Son of Nut Man?  No, I really don’t think so.

Sunday Afternoon In Richmond With Miss Daisy, Middlesex v Hampshire T20, 22 June 2008

By the second weekend of the 2008 domestic T20 tournament, I was getting quite excited about it, as Middlesex had won five out of five matches.

Janie (Daisy) and I went to the Hampstead Theatre on the Friday evening – click here for the Ogblog piece on that.

Middlesex’s first loss of the tournament on that Friday evening – away to Kent – click here for the scorecard – did not dampen my enthusiasm. It had been a rain-affected eight-overs-a-side affair in Beckenham against one of the very best teams – anything can happen in those.

The MTWD report on the Beckenham match was a Barmy Kev classic – “Made It To Becks But No Posh” – click here. Do not click there if you are a fan of the Beckenham ground.

Anyway, Janie and I resolved for sure to go to Richmond on the Sunday, weather permitting.

The weather permitted.

Daisy and I recall conversing with a Hampshire-supporting gentleman and his young son. The gentleman was quite opinionated about cricket and spoke in very critical terms about Freddie Flintoff, suggesting that he was over-rated, divisive and that England would be better off without him. Daisy in particular argued this point with the man.

The son then persistently asked me questions about the players and cricket generally, which (with the benefit of hindsight) probably irritated the father no end, as surely dad’s opinions would have more value than those of this callow stranger.

We also recall not taking a picnic with us, as we were hoping for a Middlesex out-ground hog roast. We think this was the occasion when we arrived to find that there was no hog roast (although it might have been the occasion when the queue for hog roast was too long for us to bear). One way or another, we went roast-less. If I recall correctly, we thought about going in to Richmond after the match for some Spanish food, but decided in the end simply to go home and raid our own fridge for scraps. Tragic.

Middlesex didn’t have a great day either. Click here for the scorecard. It was a grubby pitch. We thought that the bowlers had held Hampshire to a modest, get-able score, but 133 turned out to be a good score on that pitch; too good for Middlesex.

Janie was left wondering what all the fuss was about this season; the only T20 game she had seen, Middlesex had lost, “as usual”.

The MTWD match reporter was Lizzy J. Here is a link to her report. 

I think I should explain her references to the MTWD editor’s instructions for her to investigate the colour of Nic Pothas’s underpants. It was a known fact that the Hampshire wicket-keeper, Nic Pothas, superstitiously wore different coloured underpants depending on whether he was batting, wicket-keeping, training or whatever. I had merely suggested that Lizzie attempt to get an investigative journalist’s interview with Pothas, to get to the bottom of that story (as it were). Enough said.

Fast Labour by Steve Waters, Hampstead Theatre, 20 June 2008

We thought this was a good play and production, a rare hit in our view during the Anthony Clark era. Perhaps the fact that it was a West Yorkshire Playhouse import helped.

Topical then, topical at the time of writing this Ogblog piece (December 2016), the play is the story of a Ukrainian migrant worker and the exploitative gangmasters he comes up against.

Another of those plays and productions that shocked us and got us thinking all weekend. Friday evening again too, making it quite hard work after a week’s work but never mind. Janie and I had taken sustenance at Harry Morgans early evening before the play, as was our wont when going to the Hampstead in those days.

No Hampstead stub to be found from those days, but there is an Official London Theatre stub – click here.

An interesting interview with the playwright Steve Waters is available – click here or below:

We’ve enjoyed his work before, not least World Music at the Donmar, which is probably the main reason why we booked to see Fast Labour.

 

…and the Next one Please – a Smaller Works Outing to Middlesex v Sussex at Lord’s, 19 June 2008

I’m not sure what possessed us to set up three of these outings for this season – see my earlier comments about Middlesex’s dire T20 performance in previous years. Perhaps Jez and/or I sensed something pre-season. Or perhaps all the home match dates just happened to fall on good days for me/us.

The only news on the wires about other attendees is covered in this e-mail exchange. Jez to me:

I asked Christiano about the cricket yesterday but he has a meeting with one of the directors from Italy. I then asked Rafael (the building manager downstairs). He said he’d like to come, but probably won’t be able to leave here until 5…

Me to Jez:

Rafael will be fine – just make sure that he has his quota of booze with him and that he is able to aproximeet with us…

Glad to see I was getting my priorities right. Not sure who else, if anyone, joined us that day – I suspect one or two others from the office.

Five wins out of five – you couldn’t/wouldn’t make it up – scorecard? – click here.

The potential for hubris was setting in with jonnyboy, though, who describes Sussex as hapless in his match report – click here.

I remember very little about this one, Jez might help. Or might not.

Another Works Outing To Lord’s Within A Few Days, Middlesex v Surrey, 16 June 2008

Another day, another works outing to Lord’s.

Hot on the heels of our visit the previous Thursday to see Middlesex beat Essex – click here, another group to see the Middlesex v Surrey game. Clearly there was that much demand for these tickets that Jez Horne and I organised two goes. Such hardship.

Meanwhile, Middlesex had won it’s third game on the trot the previous day, doing the double against Essex that season. Click here for the scorecard. And/or, if you are collecting MTWD match reports from that tournament, here is an away match special by Auntie Janet, a stalwart Middlesex supporter of epic proportions – click here.

But I digress.

Our visit to the Lord’s match against Surrey had been fraught with ticket difficulty. I had no problem getting a ticket to Alan Cooke and arranging to give him an informal pavilion tour before the match, but one other guest, Sean from the Salvation Army, was left potentially ticket-less when his ticket got held up in the post. The kind folk at Lord’s took our word for it and issued us with a replacement Members and Friends ticket for him – problem solved.

I can’t remember who else joined us that day, but I think it was mostly Z/Yen staff for the Surrey match and we did our normal thing of bringing our own drinks and a bit of collective picnic but basically everyone chipping in for an informal sharing evening.

We don’t seem to have any pictures from that evening. Oh well. Jez might remember better.

It was hard to believe it, but Middlesex beat Surrey well that evening to make it four out of four. It was a good game too. Middlesex always seemed on top but it was not a foregone conclusion until right at the end. Here’s the scorecard – click here.

The MTWD report is a classic by Southgate Emerald – linking to his own Irish roots, those of Ed Joyce and the fact that 16 June is Bloomsday, named after that great Joycean character Leopold Bloom. Click here.

 

 

2,000 Feet Away by Anthony Weigh, Bush Theatre, 13 June 2008

Quite a shocking play centring around a man on a sex offenders’ register in small town USA. “Shocking” as in mood-affecting.

It was good drama, although in some ways lacked something dramatically given the quality of the material and the superb cast and crew lined up at the Bush of all places.

Here is the Bush’s stub for the production – click here.

We found this evening hard going on a Friday evening, but for the right reasons. The play really made us think about the subject matter; Janie and I were talking about it all weekend. That’s good theatre in our book, even if the play and production fall short of the “absolutely top notch” class.

Really good stuff from the Bush, this.

A Works Outing To Middlesex v Essex T20 at Lord’s, 12 June 2008

With many thanks to Charles Bartlett for this picture

After all the excitement of the previous evening’s match, gleaned via internet radio and reported on in near real-time on MTWD – click here… 

…a hefty day’s work, if my appointments diary is to be believed, followed by an informal works outing to the Middlesex v Essex game at Lord’s. No peace for the wicked.

Actually I look pretty bright-eyed and bushy tailed (well, the former at least) in the above photo, given the circumstances of the preceding two or three days.

This evening wasn’t quite in the style of the informal works outings that evolved for T20 matches in subsequent years, but I can see from the e-mail trail that Jez Horne mostly organised the event and that the “10 of us” who eventually showed up included Charles “Charley The Gent Malloy” Bartlett and Nick “The Boy Malloy” Bartlett, as well as Mark Yeandle (see picture), perhaps some other Z/Yen folk and some of Jez’s old friends from school.

Perhaps Jez, Mark, Charles and/or Nick will fill in some more details.

I remember it being a fun evening; especially so for those of us who support Middlesex, because Middlesex won the match.

Here is the scorecard – click here.

In truth, Essex never really got going.

I recall there was some edgy business over Ed Smith’s injury and his request for a runner – in the end that injury proved to be career-ending for Ed Smith; those of us who saw his innings that evening saw his last representative appearance for a first class side. But of course no-one knew the severity at the time.

Meanwhile MTWD had found a match reporter for the evening thank goodness – a young fellow known as johnnyboy – here’s a link to his report.

Update: I have just found the following e-mail from Chas, which suggests that his sense of humour did not extend quite as far as MTWD match reports – his response after I sent him the above link on the Friday:

Oh, so very droll!

I am ok with every thing other than the partisan match reports, much as I appreciate match reports with Middlesex winning, there must be many, many more that Essex were victorious e.g. the county match when Essex won victory from the jaws of defeat, just a few day’s ago.

The match reports that interest me the most (as you well know) are the tuffty/tcs, the TCS/Zyen along with the visits to Lords my myself, Geoff and big Jeff, so behave.

Charles

Whoever uploaded that match report did so at 4:35 the next morning. I’m going to guess that was me. No peace for the wicked. Oh dear, I’m repeating myself; time to stop.

“We’re On Our Way To Delhi”, Hampshire v Middlesex T20 MTWD Match Report, 11 June 2008

This one’s going to take quite a bit of explaining…

Here is a link to the MTWD match report in question, authored by Hippity the Green Bunny – click here.

 

This is going to take quite a bit of explaining.

The evening of 11 June 2008 was the first Domestic T20 match of the year for Middlesex. I was editing the Middlesex Till We Die (MTWD) website along with Barmy Kev at that time.

We were finding it difficult to generate much interest for the T20 tournament among Middlesex fans – this was to be the sixth year of the tournament and Middlesex had  rarely managed to avoid humiliating defeats and low positions in the qualifying tables so far – not once had our beloved team even managed a quarter-final berth.

Indeed, to try and generate some interest, I wrote a “cut out and keep” glossary which I published that morning – click here – the piece subsequently updated but you can see by the article date and the comments that the piece originated that day.

Just in case anything ever happens to MTWD, I have scraped the pieces to Ogblog – only click the links below if the links above don’t work:

Middlesex till we die – We’re On Our Way To Delhi

Middlesex till we die – MTWD Glossary

So deep was the low interest quotient, we were struggling to find match reporters for several of the matches, including the first. I agreed to “commission Hippity” to write a piece based on listening to the internet radio for the first match, which was away in Southampton, if no-one came forward to volunteer.

Then a full day’s work (for me, not for Hippity). Clients in the morning, a dash across town to London Bridge City Pier and a Z/Yen boat trip aboard the Lady Daphne that afternoon. Also, if I recall correctly, I needed to stay on a while and entertain one or two of the guests after the boat trip before dashing home.

I must have missed much of the Middlesex innings, as this extract from my e-mail to Kevin Hand at BBC Radio London (not to be confused with Barmy Kev of MTWD) attests:

Kevin/Big Al

Enjoying your commentary tonight enormously.  Fun fun fun etc.

Problem is, I got home from work c 7:40 so missed the first 35-40 minutes of the game.

At the risk of boring less workaholic listeners, could you both update me…

“Big Al” was pace bowler Alan Richardson, who was injured at the time. Not Big Al DeLarge of my more recent King Cricket reports.

Middlesex did very well that night. Hampshire had consistently been one of the most successful teams at T20; Middlesex had gone to Southampton and was winning the game well.

I got over-excited; even the BBC commentary team got over-excited, as this later extract from my e-mails to them attests:

Kev/Al

Get a grip.

Stumped/bowled/lbw – surely you can tell the difference. From here…I would say it was probably hit wicket.

Luvvvvvvvv the commentary.

Here’s the scorecard – click here.

So I decided that “Hippity” needed to file his match report in a hurry. To generate and/or build some interest in tournament. As much as anything else, I had meetings scheduled throughout the following day and was due to go straight to that evening’s game at Lord’s with a gang of people, so the report needed to go up quickly or not at all.

Why “Hippity” got it into his bean-filled head that one win meant that Middlesex were well on their way to winning the tournament, goodness only knows, but for once his mindless optimism proved to be justified.

Why “Hippity” thought that Delhi might have anything to do with it is more of a mystery. There was a shot at the ill-fated Champions League for the top teams, but I don’t think the Indian organisers had ever intended that tournament to take place in Delhi. In the end it was scheduled for Mumbai but had to be cancelled at the last minute following a hideous terrorist incident.

Anyway, given the late hour and early start scheduled for the next day, you can imagine how much time “Hippity” spent rattling off his rah-rah piece – here’s the link again. Indeed, looking at the timings on my e-mails to live commentators and the publishing time for the piece, “Hippity” must have written it before the match had completely finished.

The only other thing that needs explaining here is Hippity’s references to Gnomic the Leprechaun. At that time, Hippity had an imaginary friend of that name, who occasionally manifested as Charles Bartlett’s toy Yoda (see photo above). That now said, the matter seems to me to be fully elucidated, entirely normal and thus requires no further explanation.

Afterlife by Michael Frayn, Lyttelton Theatre, RNT, 7 June 2008

This one didn’t really float our boat, although it should have done. Michael Frayn, wrote it, Michael Blakemore directed it, Roger Allam was starring in it, the full forces of the RNT were behind it…

…but it didn’t work for us.

It is basically the story of the turn of the 20th century German/Jewish impresario Max Reinhardt, retold as a morality play.

We saw a preview and wondered whether the production was not quite ready when we saw it, but the reviews seemed to share our reservations:

…you get the idea. A real shame.

As is the RNT’s wont, no on-line archive resource (inverse correlation between organisation’s size/budget and its ability to do sensible things on-line blah blah), but there is an Official London Theatre stub – click here.

 

Blood On Paper: The Art Of The Book, V&A, 2 June 2008

This exhibition was about contemporary/recent artists and their relationship with books.

Janie and I had both heard/read good reviews about this exhibition and ensured that we took a Monday off at a suitable stage in the exhibition’s life to have a quiet look at it. This plan worked very well on the first Monday in June.

On the V&A site, there remains an excellent essay and resource link about this subject matter – click here.

Also this scholarly article by Dr Rowan Watson – click here for V&A link to pdf...

…or here for the Ogblog upload of same.

Interesting reviews/articles on the exhibition in: